Ludovico Einaudi's 'Elements', Listen & Be Enlightened
There are many comparisons to be made between the latest electro-classical offering from Italian musical master-craftsman Ludovico Einaudi and dream-pop. They both feature interwoven elements of light and dark that both complement each other, and, mask the other’s reality. Shoegaze dream-pop often hides an acrid lyric underneath honey sweet melodies and harmonies. Its drama swings between ethereal magic, sparkling fireworks and gothic duskiness.
So it is with ‘Elements’ the new 12 track album from Einaudi just released via Decca records. It is electro-classical dream-gaze of all varieties. A musical mass of melodrama and minimalism masterfully juxtaposed to show off the best side of each.
“For months, I wandered in a seemingly chaotic mix of images, thoughts and feelings” Says the celebrated Italian composer & musician. This sense of chassis seeped into ‘Element’s via emotional osmosis, producing a mellifluous melee that aspires to, and at times achieves, musical nirvana.
‘Night’, released earlier in August, and which has had in excess of half a million hits on YouTube, is the second track on the album. It opens with vibrant ripples of electronic pulses that are soon playing with a joyous piano sequence, which in turn, unfurls out into an ooze of happiness. Evoking an image of one of those low flying camera shots taken from a plane flying over fields, it features some spectacularly shimmering piano playing.
A divinely arranged Sirocco of strings billows and cascades building to an emotional crescendo whereat the music takes flight, soaring exultantly through the air and then, with a sense of being grounded again, it returns to the original pulse and piano sequence. Spirals of synth, like plumes of smoke, slowly begin to rise up again into the air. The chords take off, dancing on the wind, beating their wings in the air like musical butterflies, and then, exhausted, those wings stop beating, and a weak pulse of electronic closes out the piece. This is passion, extreme emotion.
There is only one word for ‘Night’ – euphoria.
If ‘Night’ is euphoric, then ‘Drop’ is its antithesis. In comparison to the light of its predecessor, Drop is dark, minimalist, barren, solemn. It conveys a strong sense of foreboding compounded by deep bass piano and the use of an insistent repetitive note redolent of a death knell. The looping percussion underpins a piano sequence slowly gaining momentum, until two minutes in, the fantastical arrives in the form of hugely innovative synth modulation and some truly superb string playing. Another scene change then finds a doleful lone string, cradled by a plaintive piano loop, permeating this dark and troubled soundscape.
‘Drop’, with its hints of Beethoven, speaks of pain, suffering, heartache and sorrow. Although melancholic, it is deeply enchanting. Its continuous use of looped segments is quite hypnotic. It ends with curious hammering percussive sounds (tom tom/bongo?) which singularly bring it to stillness.
‘Drop’ is the perfect counter to ‘Night’. This duo of tracks is superbly juxtaposed to create maximum impact. A wonderfully conceived of pairing.
‘Whirling Winds’ is the sixth track of the album and the final one we’ll look at here. It kicks off with swirling piano and, a piercing monotonous thrum which brings to mind someone sitting on a car horn. This one note is extended, and extended, in very ‘Hollis’ fashion.
Expressive piano chords are delicate but insistent. There wide spaces, prolonged silences, between the piano sequences, with nothing but that infinite thrum in the background.
An utterly evocative violin sequence takes over which is nothing short of a musical thing of beauty!
Let your imagination soar!!
‘Whirling Winds’ is beautiful, uplifting, provocative and conversational. It makes you want to listen to it. It commands your attention. It says “here I am”, its pregnant pauses fully expectant of your undivided attention. It is a masterpiece of contemporary classical, a wondrous and wonderful composition.
‘Elements’ is exactly as the title denotes – a composition taking its inspiration from the elements around us – wind, air, life, beauty, and the scientific elements. It is a meld most glorious, a compendium most triumphant. It is the art of music in its highest form, a masterclass in composition and musicianship. Listen and be enlightened.